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If you snorkel in the ocean, you cannot wear sunscreen because it kills the reefs. If something is so toxic to water, fish and sea life, do you really think it is good for you? It’s time to take a look at what we use on our bodies, how it could affect our health and the environment. What is safe and what is toxic? The Environmental Working Group has helped with clarity, by publishing studies and information on the following sunscreen ingredients with high toxicity warnings.
One sunscreen ingredient to watch out for is Oxybenzone, found in 80% of chemical sunscreens. It has been shown to cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones by acting like estrogen in the body, altering sperm production in animals, and is also associated with endometriosis in women. Three other chemical UV filters with high toxicity concerns are: 4-MBC, 3-BC, and Octinoxate.
There are also a few commonly used natural ingredients to avoid in sunscreens and everyday face creams. Retinyl Palmitate (Retinol, Vitamin A Palmitate, et al), a form of vitamin A, has been shown to cause gene mutations/skin cancer when mixed with UV rays. It may also speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight according to data from an FDA study. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two effective sunscreen ingredients that you should never use in a spray sunscreen- both ingredients are toxic when inhaled.
So what should you use for sun protection? Extra virgin coconut oil is a favorite for many. It has a natural sun protectant range (depending on quality of oil) from 3 to 8. If you are fortunate enough to have skin that is darker/ more accepting of sun, coconut oil is a great choice. I am very fair complected and need a bit more protection than coconut oil. My husband and I spend most weekend mornings on a lake fishing and sun is always an issue for me. Last summer, because of the sun protection in many of the oils, I used Lux 7 Rejuvenating Facial oil on my face and arms, and took Forever Young – our supplement for sun protection. I am thrilled to report not one sun burn, and I even tanned a bit which for me is a miracle. If I was going to be on the water for more than a few hours, I added in a zinc oxide/non-nano particle cream to protect long term. Yes, it makes you white, but I’ll take that over skin damage. For more information, EWG’s website Skin Deep is a great source for all things sunscreen. This summer, enjoy the sun in moderation, soak up the vitamin D producing rays, and of course catch lots of fish.
Environmental working group